A new study shows that female academics have disproportionately fewer Twitter followers, likes and retweets than men, regardless of their professional rank or amount of activity on Twitter.
Brooke Erin Duffy, professor of communication, studies the intersection of media, culture and technology. Duffy recently published a paper on gender and social media criticism that discusses the impact gender bias on Instagram has on women.
“The social media age is often touted as a meritocracy, wherein the ‘best’ content gets rewarded with quantifiable indexes of status: likes, follows, and favorites. But the reality is, women’s voices—be it in the realms of politics, sports, journalism, or academia—fail to register the same level of attention. These social inequalities persist and are, at times, exacerbated by the bias inherent in digital systems. Human-designed technologies, including social media algorithms, can play a role by making certain content more or less visible.
“Among the defining features of the social media age is the call for professionals—from journalists to politicians to academics—to put themselves out there. The command to be visible often entails considerable vulnerability. While this vulnerability can translate into active forms of antagonism—ridicule, hate, and harassment—it can also mean that one is not taken seriously. In other words, the voices of women and other marginalized communities remain invisible.”
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